Last winter, while on a bird walk in Falcon State Park in Texas, I met a guy who was participating in the Texas Century Club, where birders try to identify 100 birds in 100 Texas counties. He was well underway, having done it for several years, and had a long “tick list” of species he was looking for. The park sits astraddle two counties, Starr and Zapata, and at one point on the walk, we saw a bird he needed for one county, but not the other — and we were just inside the wrong county. Lots of comments about flushing it and herding it a few hundred yards to the north.
Later that day, I ran into him again at a farm pond where waterfowl congregate and we talked more about the club. Like any competition, there are serious competitors and other who just do it when they are birding — he struck me as kind of in the middle. It was an interesting look into a group about which I knew nothing.
Texas is big (254 counties) and most birders probably spend the majority of their time in less than 20 Texas counties. This is just under 8% of Texas counties! It also has lots of birds — one lister has 401 species seen in El Paso county alone.
The Texas Century Club is a challenge established in 2003 by the Texas Ornithological Society to encourage its members to record 100 species of birds in 100 Texas counties. The idea is to get birders to record the birds in more than the traditional hot spots. To “bird your own patch.” To explore the road less traveled. So far, one birder, Anthony Hewetson of Lubbock has logged 100 birds in 100 counties.
There are several levels of award; 5, 10, 25, 50 and 75 counties before you reach the ultimate goal of 100 species in 100 counties. The five county award level is open to all birders. The higher levels of awards are open only to Texas Ornithological Society Members.
Do other states have activities like this? I know that in Vermont, we are competing amongst counties to see which of the 14 counties list the most species in 2011. Who else has something going like this?